By Shami Makombe
THE only unreleased works of late Afrojazz musician Oliver Mtukudzi were stolen after thieves broke into the Tuku Music offices in Norton and stole the projects.
Mtukudzi died aged 66 on 23 January 2019. The celebrated singer-songwriter, businessman, philanthropist and filmmaker died at Harare’s Avenues Clinic after battling diabetes for years.
An inimitable lyricist and charismatic performer, he was considered Zimbabwe’s most popular musician on the African continent and abroad, and was declared a national hero.
The anniversary of his death brings hope that some unreleased projects of his could be unleashed to his millions of fans worldwide. But Tuku’s widow Daisy Mtukudzi has dashed such hopes when she said Tuku’s unreleased works were stolen at the Pakare Paye Arts Centre.
“The notepad that contained the project he was working on was stolen. Someone broke into the office where we kept it, thus there no longer is any pending project to talk about,” said Daisy in an interview with the Sunday Mail to mark the third anniversary of Tuku’s death.
She, however, indicated that the late popular musician was working with Ashton Nyahora and those projects are yet to be released.
“He was working on something with Mbeu (Ashton Nyahora) and it will be released soon,” she said. But indications are the these will be Mbeu’s works as Tuku only featured.
Daisy also said the Tuku family has plans to establish a Dr Tuku museum, where his regalia, equipment, etcetera, will be displayed.
Away from his music, Daisy said Tuku was a family man and dismissed long-standing allegations that he was always clashing with most of his children.
“Tuku was a family man. He always made time for his family despite his busy schedule. Also, he made sure his children were provided for. All his children were in boarding schools.
“Sometimes we would go for visits together, but oftentimes Tuku would go alone as I had a demanding office. However, during school holidays we made sure that the maid took a break as we wanted our kids to learn to do general chores.”
She added that she maintained an open-door policy with all of Tuku’s children from his previous relationships.
“I understood that Tuku had other kids besides mine, and my hands were open to all. I loved them equally; likewise, now as a mother, and my door is open to all of them. I do not understand where issues of neglect emanated from.
“Up to now, I do not have a problem with any one of the children. They are all free to approach me. We were partners (with Tuku) in everything. We discussed all our moves, budgeted towards our projects and always stuck to the plan.”
Oliver Mtukudzi was born on 22 September 1952 in one of Harare’s popular and oldest high-density suburbs, Highfield. He was the oldest of seven children and because of the untimely death of his father, he had to quickly evolve from being a young lad to the leader of his family.
He started his music career way back in 1975 with the single titled “Stop After Orange”. However, in 1977 he ditched his solo career and started performing with the group Wagon Wheels.
In 1979, he broke away from the group with some of its members and formed the Black Spirits. They released their debut single, “Dzandimomotera”, which sold enough copies to qualify for gold record status.
When Zimbabwe got her independence in 1980, Mtukudzi and the Black Spirits released their fourth album, Africa, widely seen as one of the most important albums of its time. The album contained the hit track “Mazongonyedze”.
While Tuku rose to prominence for his outspoken criticism of white oppression, he continued his social commentary after Zimbabwe’s independence. His criticism of poor and corrupt governance saw some of his songs being banned in his home country.
With his music career shaping up well, the singer spread his wings and ventured into film. He featured in productions such as Jit and Neria – for which he also composed and arranged the soundtrack.
Tuku believed in the power of collaboration and performed superbly with the likes of Lady Smith Black Mambazo, Berita, Grammy winner Joss Stone, Afro Tenors, Hugh Masekela and Louis Mhlang. One of his biggest hits, the song “Into Yami”, was with Ringo Madlingozi.
The brilliance of Neria saw him scoop M-Net’s award for Best Soundtrack in 1992. The legend went on to write and direct the musical production Was My Child. Tuku’s biggest break on the international music scene came in 1999, when he released the album Tuku Music.
From there on, he started touring all over the world, performing to thousands at some of the world’s biggest music festivals.
- Additional content by Takudzwa Chihambakwe